Waruno Mahdi mahdi at FHI-BERLIN.MPG.DE
Thu Sep 7 10:32:05 UTC 2006

Standard Portuguese indeed has _mais que_, but the local vernacular
form recorded in East Indonesia since way back is _maski_ / _meski_.

The earliest I know is in the list of "some Portuguese words that are
often mixed into the Malay of the islands of Amboyna, Banda, and the
Moluccas" supplemented on an unnumerated page (factual p. 121) of the
Dutch Malay dictionary of:

    Wiltens, Caspar, & Sebastianus Danckaerts, 1623, _Vocabularium, ofte
    VVoort-boeck/ naer ordre vanden Alphabet in't Duytsch-Maleysch/
    ende Maleysch-duytsch ... - 's Gravenhaghe: Erfgh. van Wouw.

There one reads:

    Mas que, al isset al soo ('..., albeit thus, although it is so')

Another early occurrence is in a Malay phrase spoken in the East of the
Archipelago, that is cited in the memoirs of Seyger van Rechteren:

    Rechteren, Seyger van, 1635, _Journael, Ghehouden door Zeyger van
    Rechteren: Op zyne gedane voyagie naer Oost-Indien_. Zwolle: Frans
    Jorrijaensz. & Jan Gerritsz.

there on p. 37 one reads:

    Masqui bete mou myny, 't welcke te seggen is: Wat; ick wil drincken
   '[meski béta mau minum], the which is to say: What, I want to drink'

In brackets I have put the modern correspondent. What the phrase actually
says is: 'Although I want to drink', I think.

Whether there had been a shift _mais_ > _mas_ in the locally spoken
Creole Portuguese I don't know. It could have happened to avoid a
diphthongue before a final consonant, but in how far this was regular
I can't tell. One must also bear in mind that there also was a
Spanish presence in the Moluccas in the 16th century. And it was
probably the Spanish who introduced the sweet potato here, because
it became know as _ubi ketéla_, still recorded for early 18th century
Ambon Malay by Rumphius as _ubi Castela_ (i.e. lit. 'Castillean yams').
The 1701 English Malay dictionary of Thomas Bowrey gives _oran castella_
(i.e. _orang kastéla_) for 'Spaniard'.


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